In 2017, Japanese scientist Yoshinori Ohsumi received the Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology for describing some aspects of autophagy. What is it about and what does it give?
Autophagy is the process of cell processing of its own components. This phenomenon was first described in 1963 by the Belgian biochemist Christian de Duve. But until Yoshinori Ohsumi, no one knew whether this ability of cells was innate, what genes were responsible for it, and how to start the process.
Thanks to the Japanese, mankind actually received a bomb - confirmation of many strange and refutation of many official theories of healthy nutrition .
Let's try to figure out what this autophagy is and what it means for the body.
In July 2008, the International Genetics Congress was held in Berlin. There, at a lecture, Osumi explained the meaning of the phenomenon he had discovered. The experiment was simple and elegant. Working with yeast cells, Yoshinori kept them on a starvation ration - in an environment with a low level of glucose. Observing the cells under a light microscope, he discovered that with a low-calorie diet, the cytoplasm of the cells seems to boil, and a large number of bubbles appear in it. As it turned out, when there is a lack of food, the cell begins to digest itself. At the same time, first of all, very old and damaged structures (accumulation of oxidized proteins, defective mitochondria) are destroyed. As a result, the cell is rejuvenated. However, if starvation is not stopped for a long time, autophagy can destroy the cell.
We are not yeast, but human cells are also capable of autophagy . This ability is determined genetically. In humans, it is triggered by a lack of certain amino acids: leucine, arginine, lysine and methionine, which are rich in animal products. By partially replacing animal proteins with vegetable proteins, we promote the autophagy process , slow down aging and reduce the risks of tumor, vascular and neurodegenerative diseases.
If you force the cells to starve , then they will have to use not external building materials, but to disassemble themselves into spare parts, throw away the unsuitable, and build an updated version of themselves from the suitable.
However, if you constantly live in a state of malnutrition, then autophagy will not stop at the right stage - and this will lead to the process of destruction.
For some reason, one should turn to the old, but not forgotten, theory of therapeutic starvation .
There are several types of it. Walter Longo, a researcher from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, has been studying the effects of restrictive diets and starvation on health and life expectancy for many years. He described in detail 2 modes:
Intermittent fasting: 24 hours without food, followed by 1-2 days of normal food .
Prolonged fasting : 2 or more days without food, and then a break of at least a week before the next fasting .
It should be noted that we are talking about giving up food, but in no case from water.
Studies have shown that intermittent fasting promotes the activation of nerve connections and the improvement of cognitive functions, increases the sensitivity of tissues to insulin, lowers blood pressure and heart rate, delays the appearance of tumors, prevents inflammatory diseases (in particular, dermatitis), promotes the regeneration of blood cells, stimulates the immune system.
Experiments on mice have confirmed that intermittent fasting is a prevention of diabetes, as well as tumor, cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases. In humans, such fasting normalized glucose levels and blood pressure. 2 months of fasting every other day helped to reduce the number of markers of inflammation in patients with bronchial asthma.
This, of course, is not compatible with another popular dietetic norm of eating often and little by little. If you eat often, the formation of insulin is constantly stimulated, the insensitivity of cells to it gradually develops, insulin resistance, which in advanced cases can lead to type 2 diabetes.
Cycles of prolonged fasting (2 or more days), between which there was at least a week of a normal diet , activated autophagy , as a result of which the sensitivity of tumors to therapy increased in patients, the regulation of glucose, insulin, and insulin-like growth factor 1 levels improved.
It should be noted that prolonged fasting led to a decrease in liver weight and the number of leukocytes in the blood. However, when nutrition was restored, powerful recovery processes were launched both in the liver and in the immune system.
It is necessary to practice such an approach to nutrition under the supervision of a doctor. Long-term fasting should be approached with particular care after the age of 65, since the lack of proteins at this age contributes to the unwanted loss of muscle mass.
How many times have you thought how true is the statement that you can't eat after 18? This theory is close to the truth, if you consider it in the aspect of knowledge about autophagy . And recommendations for frequent meals in small portions lose.
In studies on mice, it was found that with an equal daily amount of calories, mice that were fed at intervals of 18 hours won over those that ate frequent small portions: they had improved circadian rhythms (in particular, they slept better), did not develop or metabolic diseases were even cured.
For some reason, if you don't have time to eat at work, and only sit down at the table in the morning and/or evening - don't feel sorry for yourself. Rejoice. And don't eat in the middle of the day.
Eating with 12-hour or longer breaks also triggers autophagy processes . With such a diet , the fat mass of the body decreases, but the muscle mass is not lost, and the level of cholesterol and glucose in the blood decreases. Fasting for more than 13 hours from evening to morning can reduce the risk of breast cancer.